In search of the truth about Trumpism

Is Trumpism a scam, or is the country confronting something even more troubling: a president unhinged from reality

E. J. Dionne Jr./The Washington Post – January 26, 2017


WASHINGTON: Is Trumpism a scam? And if so, who is Donald Trump scamming?

Or is the country confronting something even more troubling: a president unhinged from any realities that get in the way of his impulses, unmoored from any driving philosophy, and willing to make everything up as he goes along, including “alternative facts”?

Of course, there’s another possibility: that there’s a method in all of this.

In his first days, Trump has been riding policy horses that seem to be moving in quite different directions. On the one hand, he has continued to make himself out as a “populist” standing up for workers by scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership and bringing verbal pressure on American companies to keep or create jobs in the United States.

On the other, he has been promising corporations the moon. He has already delivered a freeze on regulations, imposed a gag order on many federal agencies that businesses see as getting in their way (notably the Environmental Protection Agency) and promised steep tax cuts.

At a meeting with industry leaders on Monday, he sounded like a standard-issue conservative Republican on steroids, insisting that “we are going to be cutting taxes massively” and promising to cut regulations by 75 percent or “maybe more.”

Yet he also said he would impose a “very major” border tax to discourage companies from moving jobs outside the United States.

In principle, it’s possible that Trump is returning to the days of William McKinley and Calvin Coolidge. From the 1890s to the Great Depression, Republican presidents pursued policies that were simultaneously pro-business and protectionist.